People power saved the day that was the reaction of campaigners who fought the battle to keep Maplewood House open.

Lancashire County Council yesterday bowed to pressure from families and supporters of the Bamber Bridge respite centre and scrapped plans for closure.

Angela Murphy, whose autistic son Conor, 15, attends Maplewood has campaigned against the closure as part of Save Our Respite Establishments (SORE).

She said: "There has been a recognition of the fantastic work that goes on by the staff at Maplewood and the positive impact it has on the lives of many, many families. We are all ecstatic at the news that the centre has a future."

Michelle Taylor, 20, of Fossdale Moss, Leyland, joined the campaign to preserve the service for her severely disabled sister Sarah, 17, who stays at the centre every Tuesday.

Michelle said: "I haven't stopped smiling since I heard the news.

"I went to Maplewood today and there was a real sense of achievement and happiness."

South Ribble MP, David Borrow, said: "I think the county council was correct to end the consultation period now and not drag it out any longer.

"It has been very clear that public opinion was against the closure and I think the council realised that they would have political opposition from their own members if they had pressed ahead."

Preston MP Mark Hendrick said pressure from the families of those involved and opposition from district councils had made it clear that the plans were deeply unpopular.

Mayor of South Ribble and councillor for Bamber Bridge, Dave Watts, used his first meeting as mayor last month to propose a motion condemning the closure plans. He said: "I'm over the moon and have been down to the centre to congratulate everyone involved. The families and staff have stood strong through all this and their determination has shown what people can do if they believe in something."

National recognition of the Maplewood Centre came from David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy. He said: "We are relieved that Maplewood will not close and we now hope the council will look to improve respite care in Lancashire.

"Those affected by the potential closure proved what a valuable service centres like Maplewood provide."